Welfare changes – good start

jimtoggleJim O’Neill praises – yes, praises – the actions of the Scottish Government this week. Brace yourselves.


I think I am going to disappoint all my nationalist critics this week since this blog will have no criticism of the SNP – well, nearly no criticism. Indeed, I am going to praise the Scottish Government for the first time in quite a while.

But first to a shocking story that has just become public thanks to the investigative work of Private Eye. In 2012, Professor Malcolm Harrington was asked to carry out a review of fitness to work tests on the health of those who had undergone them. This was when the first real concerns about the fairness of the tests, carried out by ATOS, were being voiced.

Naturally Professor Harrington believed that all the information about the outcomes of the tests had been passed to him and he wrote his report on that basis. It now becomes clear that a substantial number of outcomes, which resulted in the death of the participants, were not released, with the collusion of the Ministers. Such a misleading limitation of the data obviously impacted on Professor Harrington’s report and has called into question his conclusions.

Naturally, opposition parties in Westminster have raised a stink about this and Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens have all called for an independent inquiry, both into the hidden reports and who was responsible, and also into the wider issue of deaths linked to welfare reforms. Naturally, the Government are resisting this but a head of pressure is building up. There is only one fly in the ointment – the lack of any call from the second largest opposition group, the SNP. Maybe they missed it as a result of their obsession with Indyref2. However, it is not too late for them to join the call. Now who is their Social Security spokesperson at Westminster?

Here it is, my little nationalist friends. Here is where I am nice to the SNP Holyrood Government. I believe in being critical where there are things to criticise, and haven’t I had a lot over this past year, but not in manufacturing artificial criticism where it is not warranted.

When Scottish Social Security Minister, Jeanne Freeman, announced that the first steps in mitigating the dreadful effects of Universal Credit would be to allow recipients to choose between fortnightly or monthly payment and to allow the Housing Benefit element to be paid directly to the landlord, it was a clear win/win situation both for the recipients and the landlords.

One of the biggest criticisms of Universal Benefit has been to force people, used to budgeting on a weekly basis, to budget on a monthly basis. This has meant that many have run out of funds part way through the month, forcing them often to choose between food and paying bills. This drove them more and more deeply into debt and has resulted in, among other things, a substantial increase in housing debt. While public sector providers have sought to manage this, the same has not been true in elements of the private sector, leading to people losing their home in that high cost rent sector.

One way to avoid this, the Housing Associations and the Councils have said, is to reinstate direct payment of Housing Benefit to the landlord. This ensures the security of the tenancy, the fluidity of the housing provider and takes one more concern off the shoulders of the tenant. As the Chair of a Housing Association where some 70% of tenants are on some element of Housing Benefit, I can attest to the accuracy of this from our own accounts.

So, three cheers for Ms Freeman and for these first steps in mitigating the impact of the Tory welfare reforms. Now if only something could be done about the ridiculous penalties, and about Bedroom Tax 2…

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8 thoughts on “Welfare changes – good start

  1. The problem for you Jim, is when you shout wolf as often as you do , no-one believes anything you say anymore.

  2. “Now if only something could be done about the ridiculous penalties, and about Bedroom Tax 2…”

    If we were an independent country we wouldn’t have to worry about them. The penny that refuses to drop for Labour.

  3. This will shock some people I don’t think everything the SNP does is wrong. Big issues are now upon us Indy ref 2 do we or don’t we .Brexit Is the biggest issue facing us. For me its a disaster I thought Indy Ref 2 was on the table as a threat that was beginning to backfire on the SNP. I did not reckon with our PM phoning the FM and forcing her hand by saying no single market so a hard brexit. I think Indy Ref 2 is now only when. In that debate I hope all parties and others will explain to the people without any scare stories the pros and cons and the effects off the decision we have to make. No rent a mob with placards to greet their less than glourious leaders. no photo shoots at schools etc. no tv debates a lot better to face a grilling from reporters . Just watched President Trump who was not supposed to get elected tell world leaders America first. American Forces will defend America so will God. Beware any Political Leader who invokes God. Alec Salmond said its God bless America And God help the rest of us. Back to Scotland. The election report for Holyrood in May is out .Our richest Party the SNP came in only 50 thousand under the 1.5 million legal limit. They hired a fleet of vans with the party leaders image on them. The Tories Spent just under 1 million I wonder where they got the money from Labour skint spent 337 thousand . Then we have former SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell who got 60 thousand when he lost his seat. He is now a political advisor to the FM This is a post funded by public money. He is part of a 13 strong team of special advisors who are paid between 40 and 83 thousand a year no further comment needed. Although I think there will be

  4. Well done. Good to see you are not turning any story into an attack on the SNP, unlike some who would have complained that the changes did not go far enough.

    Almost enough to make you think that having the ability to make decisions for ourselves rather than by a Westminster Tory government we didn’t elect has advantages, does it not? Perhaps we will move on to discuss which powers it is better to have exercised on our behalf by a Westminster Tory government we didn’t elect….personally I can’t think of any, can you?

  5. Work Capability Assessment—-Labour’s policy to save money, not by eliminating tax evasion, but as an attack on the disabled.
    ATOS—–hired by Labour in 2005. to get the policy up and running. 2008 WCA in operation.
    2010 election—-“Labour will save £1.5 billion on Incapacity Benefits claims”. This to be achieved via ATOS and WCA.
    Out of the pockets of the halt and the lame. £1.5 BILLION per annum.

    Whatever way this scandal is examined, it remains a scandal with Labours grubby fingerprints all over it. As Usual.
    Oh, and the initial Bedroom Tax? Introduced FIRST by Labour—-who’d have guessed?

  6. Happy days are here again. Bill Samuel sad the SNP have failed to live up to its potential . I don’t agree with that . Alec Salmond got him to switch from the Tories over 10 years ago. He gave them 25 thousand has now parted compan y with the SNP. he believes their stamp duty reforms are damaging to the middle class. Has also had a go at SNP advisors. Bus passes the qualifying age might be going up .They were keeping this little gem under wraps until after the local election. I believe the plan is to raise the age but extend the scheme to Apprentencies I agree with this why keep it quiet. I spoke to a senior SNP member on Saturday . I said I would be willing to convert my bus pass into a concession ticket to get bus conductors back . I was told I am in a minority of 1 . the guy I spoke to would have known about any change to the bus pass scheme. Now for Maggie remember her. The Thatcher Foundation have released some papers. In 86 Maggie agreed to test drive the new rover in front of the tv cameras . Maggie insisted the car was blue . Her civil ser vants were more concerned she would crash because she had not driven for years. They got her to test drive in private first. If she had not driven for years did she have a licence and how mutch time was wasted on this. it also turns out rover offered her a car on the VIP Preferential Purchase Scheme. She did not buy but I wander who else did. Maggie trying to keep . Michael Heseltine onboard decided not to tell him to shut up or quit. 3 weeks later he walked out. Got that one wrong.PS the famous missile it was American they own and maintain them

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